Shvat 2007 Newsletter


  1. Retreat, Workshop, Class
  2. Publication Opportunity
  3. Publication News
  4. Come to the Fair
  5. Good web sites
  6. The Writing Life (from a Nobel Prize winner)

Dear Friends,

1. Retreat, Workshop, Class

  • Sherri Mandel is a writer and author of The Blessing of a Broken Heart, which won the National Jewish Book Award in 2004. She is founder of the Koby Mandell Foundation Mother’s Healing Retreat that runs programs for women who have lost children and spouses in terror attacks and the second Lebanon war. On Monday, February 12th, 2007, Sherri will co-lead a half-day creative writing and arts retreat in Jerusalem. Participation fees are tax deductible and will provide vital support for the Foundation’s important work. For information about the Foundation, visit For information and registration for the Feb. 12th writing and arts event, email Going to this retreat is a wonderful way for you to do a mitzvah while spending a creative morning.
  • On Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007 a group from my Personal Essay Retreat and from the Writing About the Body Retreat (Jan. 28, ‘07) will convene at my home in Beit Zayit for a day of workshopping their personal essays. I’m excited.
  • On Friday mornings, March 2, 9, 16, and 23, 2007, I will teach a 3-hour class for those who want to neutralize their inner critics and discover the magic of creative writing. The series is being organized by Beit Berl College, Kfar Saba. For details and registration, email Lili at or Tel. 09-7476353.

2. Publication Opportunity

A new English language magazine is being developed for the frum world in Israel. The editors are looking for fiction, personal narrative, essays, poetry, “or any transporting work that sweeps the reader up into the writer’s world.” Up to 5,000 words. Query or send submissions to

3. Publication News

Michigan Quarterly Review has accepted my essay from Diving Into Mount Zion for its Summer, 2007 issue. I am particularly pleased about this acceptance, since I graduated from the University of Michigan forty years ago.

4. Come to the Fair

The 23rd Jerusalem International Book Fair will be held at Binyanei Ha’ooma from Sunday evening, Feb. 18th until Friday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m.. The Israel Association of Writers in English (IAWE) will have its own table to sell books written by its members, so look for it. Details about the fair at

5. Good web sites

6. The Writing Life

“My Father’s Suitcase,” a personal essay by Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, appeared in the Dec. 25, 2006 / Jan. 1, 2007 issue of The New Yorker. Hopefully, I will not be arrested for quoting some of the essay below.

“A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. When I speak of writing, the image that comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or a literary tradition; it is the person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and, alone, turns inward. Amid his shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, or profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I do. As he writes, he may drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time, he may rise from his table to look out the window at the children playing in the street, or, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or even at a black wall. He may write poems, or plays, or novels, as I do. But all these differences arise only after the crucial task is complete – after he has sat down at the table and patiently turned inward. To write is to transform that inward gaze into words, to study the worlds into which we pass when we retire into ourselves, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.” . . .

“The writer’s secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where that comes from – but stubbornness, endurance. The lovely Turkish expression “to dig a well with a needle” seems to me to have been invented with writers in mind.” . . .

“Patience and toil are not enough: first, we must feel compelled to escape crowds, company, the stuff of ordinary life, and shut ourselves up in a room. . . .

“The writer who shuts himself up in a room and goes on a journey inside himself, will, over the years, discover literature’s eternal rule: he must have the artistry to tell his own stories as if they were other people’s stories, and to tell other people’s stories as if they were his own, for that is what literature is.”

I wish you all a Happy Tu B’Shvat and hope you leave your rooms long enough to smell the blooming almond trees. Send me your publication news, so I can share it with others in Israel who write from left to right.

Warm regards on a cold day,


About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
This entry was posted in Newsletter, Persistence, Publication News, The Writing Life, Writing Classes, Writing Resources, Writing Retreats. Bookmark the permalink.

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